He also talked optimistically about his family and future, musing that he had “plenty of time” to accomplish some of his life goals.
He spoke in an interview released to the Associated Press by Rolling Stone yesterday, the 30th anniversary of the musician’s murder.
Lennon was shot dead by crazed fan Mark David Chapman outside the Dakota building where he lived in Manhattan on December 8, 1980, two months after his 40th birthday.
The issue of Rolling Stone magazine containing Lennon’s final interview will be on US news stands tomorrow.
While brief excerpts of Jonathan Cott’s interview with Lennon were released for a 1980 Rolling Stone cover story days after Lennon’s death, this is the first time the entire interview has been published.
“His words are totally joyous and vibrant and hopeful and subversive and fearless,” said Cott. “He didn’t mince words.”
Lennon saves some of his harshest words for critics.
“These critics with the illusions they’ve created about artists — it’s like idol worship,” he said. “They only like people when they’re on their way up... I cannot be on the way up again.
“What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I’m not interested in being a dead (expletive) hero. So forget ’em, forget ’em.”
He also predicted that Bruce Springsteen would be rock’s bright future, but endure the same critical barbs: “And God help Bruce Springsteen when they decide he’s no longer God. They’ll turn on him, and I hope he survives it.”
But Lennon also talked about trying to be a good father to his youngest son Sean, learning how to relate to a child (he admitted he wasn’t good at play) and spoke of his strong bond with wife Yoko Ono: “I’ve selected to work with... only two people: Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. That ain’t bad picking.”
At 40, he was also reflective of what he had accomplished in life and explored life’s themes.
“I’m not claiming divinity. I’ve never claimed purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answers to life. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can... but I still believe in peace, love and understanding.”
He also spoke about the possibility of returning to touring.
“We just might do it,” Lennon said.
“But there will be no smoke bombs, no lipstick, no flashing lights. It just has to be comfy. But we could have a laugh. We’re born-again rockers, and we’re starting over... There’s plenty of time, right? Plenty of time.”
Cott interviewed Lennon at his apartment and at his record studio. The interview was planned for a cover story for Lennon and Ono’s upcoming album Double Fantasy, but in the rush to put out a story after Lennon was shot dead outside his apartment building by Mark David Chapman, only snippets were used.
Cott said he never went back to the three hours of tapes until a few months ago when he was cleaning out his closet.
“On a strip of magnetic tape, it was sort of a miracle that first of all, the tape had not degraded after 30 years,” he said. “All of a sudden, this guy’s voice, totally alive... just made me feel so inspired that I felt that I should really transcribe the whole thing.”
Cott said he was struck by how much Lennon was thinking about his life and mortality.
“There were a lot of strange considerations of where he was and what he felt like sort of in the middle of his journey,” Cott said. “I think it was like a mid-life meditation, I was struck by that.”
The magazine also included an essay by Ono recalling her final days with her husband.
Ono released a statement in tribute to Lennon.
“On this tragic anniversary please join me in remembering John with deep love and respect,” Ono said. “In his short-lived life of 40 years, he has given so much to the world. The world was lucky to have known him. We still learn so much from him today. John, I love you!”
Fans of the ex-Beatle held vigils for the star at a monument in Liverpool and in Central Park, New York.
“I grew up with his voice,” said Marissa DeLuca, 17, who came to New York from Boston with her father, Paul DeLuca, 50.
“The Beatles are the soundtrack to my childhood,” she said. “His voice is just kind of like home.”
Her father said: “Nothing is timeless like the stuff John and Paul (McCartney) wrote.”